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MOSCOW, September 17 (Itar-Tass) — Russian MPs are outraged by the unveiling of a monument to soldiers of Latvia’s notorious wartime Waffen SS legion in the central part of the Latvian town of Bauska, Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the State Duma committee for communications with the CIS and compatriots abroad said Monday.
“The Latvian authorities keep up their policy of passing off fascism as heroism and revising the results of World War II,” Slutsky said. “Russia has more than once expressed its indication over the attempts of the Baltic states /former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – Itar-Tass/ to trample on historic truth and to destroy the memories of those who died fighting with Nazism.”
The MP said this shocking incident should definitely become a subject of international discussions.
“International organizations have a duty of issuing an unambiguous demand to the Latvians to stop lauding Nazi criminals,” said Slutsky, who chairs the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
He did not rule out Moscow might raise the problem of the Bauska monument at the PACE’s regular session in October and demand its condemnation.
Irina Yarovaya, the chairperson of the Duma Security Committee said the unveilining of the monument was tantamount to an act of reinstatement of fascism.
“The opening of this monument signals a full overturn of historic truth and a de facto justification of extremely heinous crimes committed by the Nazis,” she said.
“The most horrible thing is it signals connivance at nationalistic moods and neo-Nazism,” Yarovaya said.
“Frankly speaking, I just don’t understand why the European parliament keeps its mouth shut in such cases and closes its eyes to the disgusting facts of this kind, while many countries of the former anti-Hitler coalition are its members,” she went on. “Why are the MEPs so indifferent to the outrages on the memory of the people who died at the hands of Nazis from the Baltic states?”
“Why does it happen that the conclusions of the Nuremberg trials are disavowed?” Yarovaya asked somewhat rhetorically. “In essence, we’re evidencing reinstatement of fascism and that’s totally inadmissible.”
The monument to servicemen of the three punitive police battalions that was unveiled in Bauska, a town of some 10,500 residents in southern Latvia, Friday. It allegedly commemorates the “heroes” who fought against the “second Soviet occupation” – the expulsion of Nazi Germany’s forces from the three Baltic states in 1944.
In the meantime, researchers and public activists of antifascist organizations have long been saying two of the three battalions gained notoriety during World War II combat operations on the Eastern Front by committing hair-raising crimes against civilians far outside the Baltic region.
Documents found at Russian and Belarusian archives suggest that at least two of the three battalions took part in punitive operations in the Pskov region of Russia and the Brest region of Belarus when those territories were occupied by the Nazis.
In February 1942, a battalion of Latvian SS volunteers was dispatched on a punitive mission to a place as far away from Latvia as Dneptopetrovsk in Southeast Ukraine.
Also, the ‘volunteers’ took an active part in driving women and children in Western Russia to labor and concentration camps in Latvia.